By Karla De Jesus
Lately I have been questioned by Latinx people about why I speak out about the brutality targeting black people, since it is an issue that ‘doesn't affect me’. These types of questions that are generated by my own upset me, because many Latinx youth do not stand up for a problem if it doesn't directly affect them. The first time that I realized the tactics the white media uses to justify such brutality, I was in 6th grade and Trayvon Martin was shot and killed. As my teacher told us the details, we understood that Trayvon was a kid like many of us, who engaged in activities that we took part of in our own neighborhoods.
However, he was black.
Although his blackness made it so he wasn’t told to go back to his country, he wasn’t told that his spanish accent made him an alien, he wasn't told that he stole jobs, his blackness got him murdered. I began to understand that although we were taunted and wanted out of America, we would never be so hated as black people are. The next couple of days were filled with pictures of Trayvon with his middle finger out, with big shirts, with a ‘mean muggin’ face, all of which were supposed to justify the bullets that stopped his heartbeat and took him away from the world. Now I don't know about everyone else, but I know that I have Latinx friends who took pictures like the ones of Trayvon, and in no way were they kids that deserved to be taken away from their loved ones.
Many Latinx feel as if the “Black Lives Matter” movement is to advocate for the superiority of Black people over everyone else, and it’s difficult to explain the difference between pride and supremacy. The care-free black girls that I have met throughout the years have encouraged me to love my dark skin, to love my browness, and to fight against the slurs that are yelled at my undocumented parents. Even now that I’m in high school, it is beautiful to see black people love their blackness, without caring about the opinions of those who don't.
When I began to be more open about my passions for human rights I began to attend protests that addressed problems in the Mexican community. Here, I witnessed so many black people who’d go to stand in solidarity with us, and that is where I realized that I had to do the same and use my Latinx privilege to talk about their oppression. I started to speak out on social media, encouraging my friends and family to do the same. I have tried to attend protests that are dedicated to the victims of brutality, so other Latinx people can see that unity is possible if we allow ourselves to gain courage, and defeat those who try to separate the brown and black communities.
Recently I attended a march that was organized by Assata’s Daughters, and it was truly amazing. It’s really inspiring to see queer women empowering themselves and informing the public on the deaths of queer black women while still being inclusive and giving shout-outs to the Brown and Asian communities. At the start there were many speakers who recited poetry, sang songs, and spoke their mind, but what hit me the most was that they invited an Indigenous woman to speak out about the brutality Indigenous people have faced since their colonization. The inclusiveness was truly beautiful; you don't see a group of people have the platform for an issue they are currently facing, while still remembering those from distinct communities who are facing issues as well.
When we began to march, we stopped at important landmarks for the communities we walked through. We were told the historic importance of them and how they related back to the brutality that is occurring. Protests downtown are swarmed with policemen, making sure we ‘thugs’ don't ruin their landscapes and architecture, but at this protest, the number of policemen was so little, as if they didn't have anything to protect. This protest allowed me to stand in solidarity while learning about things that textbooks never taught me. We are never taught in school how cocaine was brought into black communities, and that it catalyzed the violence referred to as ‘black on black’ violence, as if the greater system is not responsible for it. It is facts like those that can open the eyes of other people, so they can see who is really controlling the violence we face as minorities.
With all the information that I have attained, through readings, protests, and friends, I think Latinx people need to stand in unity with black people, we need to address that racism is a much bigger issue for the black community than it is for us. We must fight with them because of the simple fact that they are humans and deserve basic rights. We gotta have each others back. Su lucha es nuestra lucha